Somodi I, Z Molnár, J Ewald: Towards a more transparent... (2012)

Somodi Imelda, Molnár Zsolt, Jörg Ewald
Towards a more transparent use of the potential natural vegetation concept - an answer to Chiarucci et al.
Journal of Vegetation Science 23: pp. 590-595.
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In this paper, the concerns of Chiarucci et al. () regarding use of the potential natural vegetation (PNV) concept are addressed, as voiced in the forum section of the Journal of Vegetation Science. First, we rectify some unfounded expectations concerning PNV, including a relationship with prehuman vegetation and phytosociology. Second, we point out issues that pose considerable challenges in PNV and require common agreement. Here, we address the issue of time and disturbance. We propose to use the static PNV concept as a baseline, a null model for landscape assessment and in comparisons. Instead of changing the PNV concept itself, we introduce a new term, potential future natural vegetation (PFV) to cover estimations of potential successional outcomes. Finally, we offer a new view of PNV with which we intend to make the use of PNV estimates more transparent. We formalize the PNV theory into a partial cause-effect model of vegetation that clearly states which effects on vegetation are factored out during its estimation. Further, we also propose to assess PNV in a probabilistic setting, rather than providing a single estimate for one location. This multiple PNV would reflect our uncertainty about the vegetation entity that could persist at the locality concerned. Such uncertainty arises from the overlap of environmental preferences of different mature vegetation types. Thus reformulated, we argue that the PNV concept has much to offer as a null model, especially in landscape ecology and in site comparisons in space and time.

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